Thursday, February 28, 2008

Washington's Rulings

We go to Washington and the Washington Post for our blog articles for this Thursday...

First from the Post, word about the Supreme Court declaring that FedEx Workers can sue over age discrimination: click here

More from today on the same case (in some articles they called it ageism and some called it age bias...all the same idea) and some of the reasons involved and repercussions for Human Resources and what happened with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the case: click here

Lastly from the Post on an unrelated topic, an article about an upside for the Middle Class: click here

What I’m Hearing…Pay for Potential

HR software company Vurv Technology is incorporating a new concept into its latest performance management tool – pay for potential. In HR we talk about across the board increases, merit pay, pay for performance, and pay at risk. But how often do we think about paying some now for what they might do in the future?

Reflecting on our various client engagements, I can only think of one organization that said future potential / contribution should be a factor – but not the only factor – in determining pay and placement in range.

In theory, paying someone for their future contributions sounds like an idea with merit. It encourages people to try hard, to do their best, and to stay with an organization. But what if that person never delivers? What can the organization do about those lost dollars?

On the one hand, ending up with an average performer and solid contributor who keeps down the cost of turnover isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, pay for potential seems to have too many risks and intangibles associated with it to generate a sufficient ROI. Effective, continuous communication and more rapid pay increases (e.g., every 3 – 6 months) may be just as effective in giving high performers what they need to stay motivated and engaged.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Calling All HR Blogs for our Blogroll

Always trying to update our Blogroll (listed as Other HR Blogs on the right side of the screen), we would love to accept your Human Resources blog or other suggestions you have for our HR Blogroll. We've tried to add in other blogs as we go but if you give us a shout on on your blog, we'll do the same here at Astron!

Let me know if you have a blog to add to the list...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What I'm Hearing...Astronology on Succession Planning

We talked about it in our blog, and now it's made it to Astronology, Astron Solutions bi-weekly newsletter. Check it out on our website

And make sure to sign up for the bi-weekly Astronology newsletter to make sure to get in-depth coverage of the latest important news in Human Resources: click here

Lastly, as always, if you would like to find out more about what we do here at Astron Solutions, please visit our website ( and feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We love keeping you updated with this blog, but if you want to know what we can offer your business, please check out our website.

Breaking News on Supreme Court Age Discrimination Case

We've been talking about it here for a while so wanted to update you by letting you know a ruling has come down in the Age Discrimination case seen before the Supreme Court and in a unanimous ruling, they have found in favor of the ex-employee (click here)

This is a big blow to businesses as the Associated Press (via Forbes) writes:

The Supreme Court is leaving the door open for workers in age discrimination cases to present supporting evidence from other employees at a company.

This, after a Washington Post analysis article from Sunday said that the Supreme Court Justices were further resisting finding the right to sue: click here

More later as news becomes available...

Updated: If you want to see the actual Supreme Court decision, check it out here on their website: click here

Updated: The StarTribune weighs in with some more information than the Forbes article, but a little easier for most of us to understand than the full Supreme Court decision: click here

What I’m Hearing…Medical Tourism

Last night during my standing Monday dance lesson, my Hustle dance coach told me that a friend of his is leaving for England to have hip resurfacing surgery, a procedure that’s not common here in the States. When I asked why someone would fly so far away for medical work, he said that the procedure will cost $11,000 - $14,000 less than it would here, even with the airfare and other travel expenses.

I’d heard of medical tourism before, but I didn’t really think people did it. I was wrong.

According to a survey done by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 11% of surveyed organizations cover medical tourism. (Keep in mind these organizations are large.) In addition, some insurance companies have begun creating policies that provide incentive to covered individuals to go abroad for treatment for some medical needs.

Is this a wise idea? Depending on the country one travels to, is this safe? Money is definitely important, and medical costs here in the US are high. However, is saving a few thousand dollars worth the risks and discomfort associated with 6+ hour plane flights to foreign lands, without one’s family, to interact with medical professionals and anesthesiologists who may not be fluent in English? Perhaps instead of “outsourcing” our medical care the insurance companies should cut down on the level of profits they enjoy at our expense.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What I’m Hearing…The Cubicle Police

We’ve all dealt with them. Co-workers who do things that annoy us while we’re trying to be productive. But what can we do? Rules of polite society prevent us from speaking our minds.

In the current issue of Time Out New York, they decided to do go where we can’t. Click here to enjoy an amusing article where TONY’s police officer Laura Leu combed the hallways at ad agency Young and Rubicam to tackle Internet surfing, smelly lunches, animal décor, and joke forwarding. Have fun, and take comfort knowing you’re not alone!

Sick? Work From Home

I finally caught it.

I felt like I was in a horror movie being chased by the killer the past few months as I'd seen colleagues, family and friends go down with the winter bug. I'd done everything to avoid it from quarantining myself from the sick, to loading up on Orange Juice and Airborne, to washing my hands with Purell.

But I got sick anyways. And when it hit it wasn't a mild cold or a virus, but a nasty infection.

Many have to make the choice in this situation whether to go to work or stay home. Many, according to a CBS News report from 2005 (click here), choose to go into work--something called presenteeism:

Although it's done out of job dedication in many cases, it really doesn't help to have an employee in the office who is spreading an infection to others, in addition to not being able to work as well due to their own illness.
Some experts say presenteeism can actually result in a greater loss of productivity than absenteeism.

I chose absenteeism, or staying home from work. But instead of making it a sick day off. I've parlayed my days off into opportunities to telecommute. We've talked a lot in this blog about telecommuting, but this seems to be one of the cases where it truly does seem to work.

Although the source (Telecommute Connecticut) may be a little biased in this article (click here), this passage from Jen Jorgenson, a spokesperson for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) is important to note:

Companies may want to encourage telecommuting rather than have employees come in to the office and use their computers to get work done and infect everyone else around them, Jorgenson said employees who telecommute when sick can continue to be productive without making others sick.

If you're having a hard time figuring out if you're too sick to go to work, this Medicenet article that was a feature on WebMD, can help you figure it out: click here

The New York Times (click here), Baltimore Sun (click here), and Asbury Park Press (click here) all give the same message: if you're sick, stay home!

Human Resources can have a role in this by encouraging employees to work from home when sick instead of stressing on them coming in and fighting through it while spreading the germs and giving them access to things like laptop computers and VPN access so that they can access all their files from home.

And this issue is not just a United States one...sick days cost British businesses £ 34 billion according to this article by the Daily Mail: click here

Thirty nine per cent of workers say they are completely bored when they have to take time off sick, and wish they were back at work.

Wouldn't it be better to take those bored workers and give them something to do when they are home?

Friday, February 22, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Heartache Leave

Here’s one I’ve never heard of before. Receiving paid time off to get over a breakup.

Japanese firm Hime & Co offers heartache leave to employees. Employees under 25 can take 1 day per year. Employees 25 – 29 can take 2 days per year. 30 and over? You can take 3 days per year to get over a failed relationship. According to CEO Miki Hiradate, "Women in their 20s can find their next love quickly, but it's tougher for women in their 30s, and their breakups tend to be more serious."

Here in America, FMLA and EAP programs may cover some of the medical / physical issues which sometimes manifest themselves at the end of a relationship. Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act would also address whether it’s OK to create such a policy here in the States. (Short answer – “no” to the Hime program. There’s too much discrimination based on age and gender.)

Should corporate policy cover heartache leave? And what about those employees who are happy to get out of a relationship – should they be eligible for an extra vacation day or two to celebrate? I don’t think we’ll be seeing any programs like Hime’s making their way across the Pacific anytime soon. It is interesting to explore what other nations are doing in the area of employee relations, though.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I'm Hearing...The Employee Free Choice Act

With all the recent political coverage, we’ve heard a lot about the Presidential candidates’ plans for healthcare reform, retirement security, and a host of other topics that impact Human Resources. One proposed law, however, that’s slipped beneath the radar is the Employee Free Choice Act.

Although comprised of a variety of facets, long story short, the potential law proposes that employees should be able to form a union simply by signing authorization cards. A formal election would no longer be required for employees to become organized labor.

The proposed law (H.R. 800, S. 1041) is supported by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. John McCain opposes the law. Mike Huckabee is silent on the topic.

The Employee Free Choice Act chips away at the cornerstone of our nation’s labor relations code, the Wagner Act, also known as the National Labor Relations Act. When voting this November, be sure to consider how the candidates’ stands on this law will impact your daily job as an HR practitioner. How would your work change if employees could unionize without your having a say in the matter?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Latest 401(K) news

We've been talking a lot lately about the cases the Supreme Court would hear but one ruling they just came out on dealt with 401(K)s...

According to MSNBC (via AP): click here

The issue in the LaRue case was whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act permits an individual account holder to sue plan administrators for breaching their fiduciary duties.

The language of the law refers to recovering money for the “plan” rather than for an individual, raising the question of whether a participant can sue solely for himself.

Justice John Paul Stevens, in his opinion for the court, said that such lawsuits are allowed. “Fiduciary misconduct need not threaten the solvency of the entire plan to reduce benefits below the amount that participants would otherwise receive,” Stevens said.

Business owners supported LaRue's employers and you wonder what repercussions this plan will have on future 401(K) offerings from employers and how many lawsuits will follow this decision...

What I'm Hearing...Wage and Hour Lawsuits

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing more and more about wage and hour lawsuits. It seems the U.S. Department of Labor is stepping up its investigation of wage and hour complaints. Now, more than ever, it’s essential to make sure your FLSA exempt / non-exempt classifications, and associated job descriptions, are accurate and up to date. White collar positions including store managers, IT positions, and sales reps are the next wave of DOL investigation. In the past, traditional non-exempt positions have been the focus.

According to Fortune Small Business, key areas to examine are “executive assistant” positions, IT employees, pay docking practices, the impact of telecommuting on compensation, provision of comp time, and the use of stock options.

FLSA compliance has always been a thorny issue. While the new 2004 regulations helped in a variety of areas, compliance continues to vex HR professionals and their business line managers. Proactively updating your job descriptions and auditing your exemptions should help to prevent your organization from being targeted for lawsuits by employees and the DOL.

More on Age Discrimination

Whether you call it Ageism (detailed here in full Wiki style) or age discrimination, you, as a Human Resource Professional, should be getting familiar with the idea, because the decisions made in Washington will have an impact on your business. Amazingly, this story is getting very little play in the national media outside of Washington. But we here at the Astron Solutions' blog found you the best articles to get you even more up-to-speed...

First, the Washington Post has a quick summary look at the Age Discrimination cases: click here

Next, an article about how the shield against reprisal after a bias claim was discussed by the Supreme Court: click here

On to Slate which has an article titled "Grumpy Old Men"...always an interesting read over there at Slate: click here

Lastly, Jurist, from University of Pittsburgh Law School, has the court cases for those
who want to see the legalese behind the lawsuits: click here

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Fun Stuff

It doesn’t have to be all work all the time. During the long President’s Day holiday, I took some time to enjoy TV!

I enjoy learning more about location specific history. You know, things like “on the site where there’s now a Wal-Mart, in 1829 it was the site of a working farm.” There were two interesting programs on this weekend which are worth viewing online.

First, First Look New York, a program broadcast on WNBC in New York, ran a story about President Theodore Roosevelt’s home. Comedian Mo Rocca takes us on a tour of the President’s home and shares interesting trivia. Be sure to watch for the segment regarding President Roosevelt watching President Lincoln’s cortège for an “it happened here” moment.

Second, PBS’s American Experience ran a fascinating story about the history of New York’s Grand Central Station. Who knew the building that so many of us take for granted today had such a past?

Lastly, for some chuckles, Fox’s Family Guy ran an amusing, if impractical, approach to combating identity theft. The show aired Sunday, February 17th.

Happy viewing!

Too Old? Not in the Workplace

One of the forms of discrimination that may be more prevalent than people think and which many people know very little about is age discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has facts about age discrimination here: click here

And the United States Department of Labor has information here: click here

But this issue is not as cut and dry as many people would think. Recently my dad was unemployed for a while and while trying to get a new job, he did everything he could to hide his age because of his perceived bias on the part of the people who he was interviewing with.

And he's not the only one...the Supreme Court will hear five Age Discrimination cases according to the Washington Post: click here

The Christian Science Monitor also takes up the issue putting out the issue of: when can people sue for age discrimination: click here

Although this would seem to be a cut and dry area, many companies have policies against older employees and many fire older, tenured employees to bring in younger ones.

And then there's an article from the Boston Globe saying that colleges, companies, and state officials in Massachusetts are giving incentives for young people to stay in state: click here

Although this seems like a good, practical idea with many Baby Boomers retiring and a need for these young workers, how can giving these incentives to young workers and not to the older ones NOT be age discrimination? Would someone have a case against these organizations that provide this incentive?

We'll find out quite soon after the Supreme Court ruling...

Friday, February 15, 2008

What I’m Hearing…Economic Downturns

Listening to the news nowadays, it sounds like the American economy is in a bad way. Certainly, mortgage issues, the cost of oil and gas, and a variety of other factors are impacting our nation’s economy in a less than positive manner.

I heard about an interesting and unique article in the 2/13/08 issue of Financial Times regarding the American economy and its health. The article’s author notes that small business owners, at least in the first quarter of 2008, are NOT seeing a downturn in their businesses. According to the article, Proctor & Gamble can tell us more about our economy than one might think.

When there is a significant slowdown in the economy, consumers tend to shift from brand label products to generics in an effort to save money. Proctor & Gamble’s earnings report, however, does not show that this transition is happening. This finding correlates with anecdotal evidence from a Financial Times survey.

As the economy might be stronger than some members of the media report, it’s important that we continue our efforts to recruit and retain the best talent. When the economy picks up again – and it will – key players must be in place in order to push our organizations to the next level of success. Hiding ineffective HR practices or a lack of succession planning behind the veil of “a bad economy” won’t lead to the success that’s needed moving forward.

What have you done recently to make sure your organization is strategically positioned for the coming year?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Steroid Hearings: What HR Can Learn From This

I have a feeling that Congress has a few other important things to do than to grill baseball over past steroids and HGH use (you know...Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, the job market, the housing market, the threat of terrorism--and the fact that only about 20% of Americans approve of Congress is surprising to some people), but since they did, it brings up one very, very interesting HR issue, which was buried within the whole circus atmosphere yesterday, and that was: why the heck did Roger Clemens continue to employ Brian McNamee? And not only employee him, but befriend him and trust him...

Jason Stark of ESPN points out in his blog here (may need Insider for access), this exchange:

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton ran through a laundry list of all the unseemly stuff McNamee had allegedly done to Clemens -- lies about Ph.D.s, claiming the Rocket's workout program was McNamee's workout program, using Clemens' photo in an ad without permission, etc. -- and wondered, "Why did you continue to employ him?"

This seemed like a set-up question -- a chance for Clemens to talk about what a great guy he is. Instead, the Rocket rambled all over the District of Columbia. After about four attempts to get Clemens to sing his own praises, Clemens finally caught on.

"Why did you keep this man? It's very simple," Norton said. "He did some pretty horrendous things."

"I'm a forgiving person," Clemens said, finally.

Oh. That explains it. That satisfied Norton, anyhow.

"Mr. Clemens," she concluded. "All I can say is, I'm sure you're going to heaven."

I'm not sure if Norton (who Colbert Report fans may know from her frequent spots on the show as a famous "delegate") was being sarcastic at the end of that, but this brings up huge character issues and brings up the Human Resources issue. There certainly is value in giving second chances to people, but someone such as Clemens should have more careful with someone like McNamee. That list does not even include his rape arrest, injecting his wife with HGH, giving him an amphetamine, or other incendiary things he has supposedly done.

And if you look at Clemens testimony, it seems like these issues were something Clemens was aware of: click here

The Houston Chronicle picks up on this as well (click here):

The Clemens defense team has been chipping away at the credibility of McNamee for the better part of two months. McNamee is an admitted drug dealer who was involved in a 2001 date-rape case in which he lied to police but was never charged. He isn't the sort of person you'd want spending an inordinate amount of time around your family — yet he was an invited overnight guest in the Clemens home many times.

"I'm a forgiving person," Clemens said.

How forgiving? Clemens asserted that he didn't learn until after the fact that his wife, Debbie, received human-growth hormone injections from McNamee in 2003. Despite that, Clemens continued to employ McNamee until 2007. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said — either sympathetically or ironically — to Clemens: "I'm sure you're going to heaven."

This man was not only employed by Clemens but by Andy Pettitte and the New York Yankees organization. Some Human Resources professional should have seen the flags in McNamee's record and kept him away from the team. Either Clemens or Pettitte should have realized that they needed to entrust someone else. This problem was NOT just a Yankee problem either (I feel, as a Yankee fan, I should be quick to point that out); the San Fransisco Giants let Barry Bonds personal trainer, Greg Anderson, into the clubhouse and the Mets let in Kirk Radmonski.

Someone in Human Resources should have stepped up with background checks and more oversight to stop letting in drug dealers into Major League Baseball clubhouses...because the truth is that letting these type of people into your company will not "send you to heaven" as a Human Resources Professional

Update: Due to our responses we would like to add in Global Warming, the decline of the American dollar, ridiculously high college costs and the breakdown on the public school system to our list of problems Congress probably should have been worried about rather than steroids...but I digress...

What I'm Hearing...Writing Skills

Yesterday I received a catalog from Uline, a company which specializes in shipping supplies. Liz Uihlein writes on page 374 of the catalog about 7th Grade, Mr. Nelson and Uline.

Ms. Uihlein makes the case that today's employees and consultants don't have the necessary skills to communicate effectively in the workplace. Prioritization, focus, and organization are missing in written documents. As she explains, Despite a "How to Write at Uline" indoctrination by our HR department when employees are hired, poorly written documents submitted to me remains one of my biggest daily challenges. "What is your point, what do you propose, what are your Top 3?" I ask over and over. Lately, I've taken to saying "Return to sender and redo. You're wasting my time."

I too have read documents prepared by individuals for whom English is their native tongue. To read the document, however, you would think English was their third language. I've also seen choppy PowerPoint presentations explained away as "it's meant as talking points and not a written lasting document."

Why is it difficult for individuals to realize the importance of producing polished written work? What you write reflects on who you are. People will make decisions about you based solely on how you write. (Think about what you do with resumes that have typos and other errors.) Writing skills are not something that develop overnight. However, as HR professionals, we should be actively working with our current and future employees, through Workforce Readiness initiatives, to ensure that everyone communicates as clearly and effectively as possible.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bad Weather? Don't Commute; Telecommute

It is snowy and rainy here in New York....and commuting to work is really bad so we start out on this Wednesday with the StatesmanJournal in Oregon telling us that when the weather turns, people should embrace the telecommuting option: click here

Next, following up on a previous blog entry, a FOX Business article about proposed changes to the FMLA: click here comes that HR chick--said the Orlando Sentinel in this article whose title may irk a few of you: click here

Lastly, Management-Issues from the UK asks what is it about HR that has it rising in importance in so many organizations: click here

What I'm Hearing...Succession Planning

The February 2008 issue of Continental magazine featured a story called "Who's Next?" in the Ideas@Work column. According to the story, "when it comes to developing talent, the future is now."

One cannot argue the importance of succession planning. With the changes in our economy, our nation's demographics, and a general shortage of talent, simply waiting for great employees, or even good ones, to arrive at our organization's doorstep is a naive thought. The article raised a few points worthy of discussion:

1. But given the extreme mobility and conflicted loyalties that characterize today's workforce, it is unrealistic to think you will be able to develop enough talent within your organization to meet all your future needs. True, we may not be able to grow all our necessary talent in house, especially at larger organizations. However, why can't we try? Do people necessarily move from job to job simply because that's the "right" thing to do? If we as an organization can meet or exceed someone's needs, won't employees stay with us? Why change if you're satisfied and developing?

2. You need to know who the stars are in your industry in order to effectively succession plan. We may know who the top talent is in our own organization, but when have we taken a look at the talent our competition has? Although this is a difficult task, for long-term success, it's a perspective organizations will have to take.

3. When courting talent from outside your organization, it is important to identify candidates who are likely to thrive in your culture. Amen. How many times have candidates interviewed at small companies, only to say that their dream job would be to work at a Fortune 100 firm? Make sure the culture fit is there to ensure the best hiring success.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What I'm Hearing...Super Tuesday Recap

If you want to get a recap on Super Tuesday's impact on Human Resources, as well as on each candidates stance on HR issues (to allow you to be a part of a more informed electorate) check out the Astronology article written today: click here

For those of you who are not yet familiar with it, Astronology is Astron Solutions' bi-weekly Human Resources Newsletter which keeps you up-to-date on Human Resources news which is not only relevant, but, at times, prescient. If you haven't signed up yet on our link to the right, click here to sign up for the e-mail updates.

And, if, for some reason, you haven't checked out our website lately, check us out at (and if you're in New York, make sure to stop by our brand spankin' new office!)

Colbert on Labor

I went to go see the Colbert Report today so I figured I'd leave you with some love for labor from the man himself: click here


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Know the FMLA

We start out our blog posts with the Coshocton Tribune and an article about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (which a recent Society for Human Resources Management AKA SHRM survey showed is not very well-known even by Human Resources Professionals): click here

This wasn't, however, among the top 10 Human Resources resolutions of 2008 put together by Entrepreneur and MSNBC: click here

And, lastly, a nice article from the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville about two close friends who went at it alone in Human Resources: click here

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pond Hopping for HR News

Going over to England for two articles today from PersonnelToday, the first that says that many workers think human resources make no difference in their lives: click here

Also from PersonnelToday, advice on putting the best Human Resources ideas into practice: click here

Lastly, from the Washington Post, an article that says something that Astron Solutions has been telling you for a long time now: money may not be the most important thing to all your employees: click here

What I'm Hearing...Direct Deposit

Today, as I was driving on the 105 Freeway in Southern California, the morning radio show hosts discussed some research from the US Government (Department of Treasury, I believe). According to the study, one third of Americans do not use direct deposit. Which got me thinking.

Unfortunately, the show hosts moved to another topic after dropping this soundbyte. It would have been interesting to know how this statistic breaks down by age, geography, and a host of other demographics. Is this one-third comprised mainly of people age 50 and over? Is it mostly people who make less than $50,000 a year? Or does direct deposit status not correlate with any particular demographic?

Why would someone not choose to use direct deposit? I suspect that some would say I want to stay out of the system or I don't trust technology.

As Human Resource professionals, should we encourage all employees to use direct deposit, for the benefit of both our employees and our organizations? What can we do to encourage the one-third of Americans still on paper checks to migrate to electronic payments?

On the other hand, is there a time and a place for direct deposit? For instance, although everyone at Astron uses direct deposit for their bi-monthly paycheck, any year end bonuses awarded are paid out by live check. We believe a live check encourages the recipient to notice what they're receiving, and hopefully appreciate it more.

Harrasment Stops with Prevention

The HR Daily Advisor starts us off with the questions of who is being harassed in your workplace right now: click here

The best policy is not a reactive one but a preventive one...make sure to have a policy in place before some of the incidents they mentioned become a reality in your business...

Next, from the Business Review of Western Michigan, word that many employers are seeking outside help to lure good employees: click here

Lastly, we have a blog entry that asks if executive pay should be tied to firm performance: click here

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

On Super Tuesday we hope all of you got out and vote because the only wrong vote is one not cast...

First, continuing our story from yesterday is HR Daily Advisor which asks if Baby Boomers are driving us towards a health care crisis: click here

Second, from Bootstrapper's HR Bible, 100 articles every Human Resources professional should read: click here

Lastly, from a personal blog, a person's opinion about their job working in human resources: click here

What I’m Hearing…Workplace Romance

This week, Business and Legal Reports (BLR) has run a series of articles on workplace romance. The prevailing theme has been “don’t have one, but if you do, document it clearly to prevent a lawsuit.”

Are workplace romances inherently bad? I received Fortune Small Business yesterday. The cover story, Sleeping with the Boss, talks about married couples who run businesses together, and are making it work.

Various studies suggest that 20% of workplace romances become permanent. By extension, 80% end, but the studies don’t tell us if the relationships end at the same company or after one or both of the individuals has moved on to a new job.

Of any relationship that ends, does it have to be a hostile, nasty situation? Can individuals break up and still be friendly, or at least professional? I believe they can.

Workplace romances would appear to have benefits that dating strangers don’t. You see the person at work, so you know if they’re a hard working team player or a loafer before you start dating. You can observe them well before you get involved – at a time when they’re not trying to impress. You can more easily cut through the date chatter meant to impress and get to the person’s personality and the factors that matter in a relationship.

Workplace romances do have risks, to be certain. But for some couples, who’ve made a well thought out decision, taking the gamble could mean all the world.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Getting Over the Football Hangover

A record number of you tuned in to the biggest sporting event on the planet and yet the head coach of the New England Patriots never saw the end of the game. He, like an estimated 2 million of you, called in sick. In the aftermath of an amazing football game that will definitely go down in history, a Human Resources lesson that can definitely be learned is that leader and manager should never leave subordinates alone, especially during the toughest of times, no matter how frustrated they may be...

That said, large, large congratulations go out to my football team, the New York Football Giants who improbably and amazingly banded together as a team and won a game that few ever gave them the chance to win. It took catching balls off their helmet and overcoming great adversity throughout the season and the game, but they held steadfast and deserve this win. And they deserve this talk to be about their great job rather than another team's choke.

In other news...we decided to pick on Tiki Barber, the running back who retired from the Giants before this past season and criticized the running articles about retirement:

First from USA Today, word that Baby Boomer's eagerness to retire could cost them: click here

Also from USA Today, an article about early retirees trying to fill a gap in their health coverage: click here

Lastly, MSNBC talks about a hearty premium plan that we could pay for health insurance: click here

What I’m Hearing…Any Given Sunday

I suppose that since we’re in New York, we have to do an obligatory Giants Super Bowl victory post. I’ll be honest – my two favorite football teams are the New York Jets and whoever is playing the New England Patriots. I learned back in 9th grade Geometry class that it’s not wise to get on the popular bandwagon when it comes to supporting a sports team.

That said, congratulations to the New York Giants for their impressive victory last night. The fourth quarter kept us all on edge, and proved that on any given Sunday, anything can happen. Outcomes depend on who shows up – physically and mentally – that day.

The same is true for our employees and co-workers. You never know what their dormant talents and skills are until you put them into situations that let them shine. Take a chance on someone, give them a new project or assignment outside their comfort zone, and let them show you what they can do. You may be disappointed, sure, but you also may be amazed.

For on any given day, the extraordinary can come out of the ordinary.

Friday, February 01, 2008

What I'm Hearing...Executive Comp

Yesterday I was talking with some compensation colleagues from across the country. The topic of the day was executive compensation disclosure. My colleagues mentioned that in the last month, during 4 separate client engagements, the client's Board or top management requested a breakout of the CEO’s compensation showing how much of the CEO’s pay was for vacation time.

It appears that some organizations are opting to err on the side of complete disclosure. However, this type of approach raises two questions for me.

First, salary surveys do not break out pay by time worked vs. time not worked. How can we effectively benchmark when there are no data available?

Second, where does disclosure stop? Do we then move to pay for time spent at lunch, pay for time spent traveling on business, etc.?

We need to watch executive compensation to prevent more examples of excess and abuse like we’ve seen in the news the last few years. Disclosure is a good thing for organizations and shareholders alike. However, do we eventually cross a point where there’s too much information? Does the government have the right to monitor everything a private organization does?

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